Comment highlights: Our picks of 2010

Our top comment pieces of 2010
Our top comment pieces of 2010

Here's our top ten handpicked highlights of the year from our comment pages.

We can't be trusted? Neither can you

February 24th: The Commons' culture, media and sport committee launched a powerful attack on the press, culminating in its call for the Press Complaints Commission to be handed greater powers. We didn't think this was a great idea:

"MPs on the committee are doing what MPs do best: identifying a problem and inventing a new structure to make it go away. But could journalists really be free to do their job - to uncover wrongdoing, to expose dishonesty - with an arm of the state probing and interfering?"

The hypocrisy of the attack on Brown

April 28th: Gordon Brown's bigotgate gaffe is now viewed as *the* key moment of the 2010 general election campaign. Calling Gillian Duffy a "bigot" because of her concerns about immigrants was a huge mistake, but it took place in what he thought was private. Amidst the condemnation, we did something we haven't made a habit of: defend the prime minister.

"If we despise the robotic version of politicians which have invaded our TV screens, the pre-programmed Cabinet-level automatons who emit soundbites and vacuity, then we must accept that politicians will behave like humans. They are not moral paradigms. Behaviour we would tolerate in a friend or colleague should be tolerated from them as well. This disproportionate reaction to their all-too-human failings will just provide us with another generation of political robots."

You can't depoliticise people

June 14th: George Osborne's establishment of an Office of Budget Responsibility was designed to take suspicions of Treasury tinkering from economic forecasting figures. But was this a step too far?

"It's politicians' job to make decisions. The divisions which influence their thinking when they do so is the life blood of the political system. So it might seem a little strange they spend so much of their time wriggling away from actually making a judgement call."

Comment: ID cards by the backdoor

June 10th: Having got rid of ID cards, the new coalition government seemed to be dragged its feet - or not budging them at all - when it came to the National Biometry Identity Service (NBIS), another national database for civil liberties campaigners to fight against:

"Cards were only after half the problem. The systemic cancer comes in the form of databases, where countless details are kept and cross-referenced, without any thought for privacy, in an endless bid to organise the population of Great Britain. There is simply no need for the NBIS."

Clegg and Capello - both leading losers?

June 28th: After England's disappointing performance at the World Cup turned attention on their beleaguered manager, Fabio Capello, parallels began to emerge with the tough situation faced by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg:

"Lib Dem supporters should be feeling as miserable as England fans. After all, for Fabio Capello and Nick Clegg's teams a very promising build-up didn't quite translate into results when it mattered."

Comment: Liam Fox needs to play more video games

August 23rd: Defence secretary Liam Fox was appalled at the idea that a computer game could, in his words, "recreate the acts of the Taliban". His condemnation against Medal of Honour was the latest tirade against video games from Westminster:

"Fox's comments are evidence of how utterly divided and incomprehensible we have become to each other when discussing video games culture. Liberals and conservatives alike are startled by the moral implications of video game controversies because they don't have any experience of the cultural background within which it takes place. It's like judging a person's character on one sentence they uttered, taken completely out of context."

Comment: Ed Miliband is more dangerous than they think

September 25th: With the tabloids quick to dub Labour's new leader 'Red Ed', those quick to write him off were warned against being too dismissive too quickly. The criticisms continue to mount, but many of these thoughts after Miliband's leader's speech in Manchester still apply:

"The media will savage him, as it does anyone succeeding on the left, in a more vicious and aggressive manner than he had imagined. All intellectual arguments fall to nothing when the media succeeds in these tasks, because they create reality. If they convince enough people he's a limp leftie incompetent, then people will vote on that basis.
But my hunch is they will fail. He might just be smarter."

Comment: The war on drugs is already lost

November 10th: Despite the arguments laid out against drug prohibition in this comment piece, California eventually voted against legalising marijuana. With Professor David Nutt continuing to take the fight to the British government, this issue simply wasn't going away:

"What is losing? No-one really knows. In football there's a final whistle. In politics, there are elections. But policies have no timer, only consequences. How bad must those consequences be for us to call it quits over the war on drugs?"

Comment: The hypocrisy of the media attack on Wikileaks

November 29th: After whistleblowing website Wikileaks began released the first of hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables, the media's reaction was called into question. Should they have been attacking Wikileaks - or defending it?

"America and its allies shouldn't be the only people with egg on their face. The media should be embarrassed as well. Large parts of it have mistaken their role of truth-seeker for that of the establishment's press office."

Comment: Eyewitness at the Parliament Square demo

December 9th: Somewhere in the midst of the anger of the student protesters, could be found getting batoned and being mistaken by turns for a plain-clothes policeman or a troublemaker. The experience proved invaluable when it came to passing judgement:

"The chorus of criticism will now begin, and that standard mantra of a violent minority will become the dominant narrative. If you adopt that view you have fundamentally misunderstood what has happened today. Their anger is widespread, real and legitimate."


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